Last week I wrote that, contrary to conventional wisdom, there is no reason to believe that American colleges are, on average, the best in the world. A number of people who responded, including several in letters to The Times, raised issues worth addressing more broadly.
Several of the questions concerned whether the American graduates in the study, known as Piaac, short for the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, are somehow different from those in other countries to whom they’re being compared.
Steve Hochstadt, professor of history at Illinois College, noted that a third of Americans have a bachelor’s degree, “compared with about 23 percent” in member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and asserted that this causes Americans, on average, to score lower on tests.
A chart with the article showed that Austrian graduates scored highest in a test of numeracy; Mr. Hochstadt noted that less than 15 percent of Austrians complete college, implying that those who do are likely to be higher achievers.